Tim McDermott, an MSU professor in Microbial Ecophysiology, will extract rock material to analyze the microbes living on its surface. Then Rusty Rodriguez, a microbiologist who works with the U.S.G.S., will extract DNA from the plants to determine the microorganisms associated with them.
Rusty’s ultimate hope is to isolate fungus that we think is living symbiotically with this plant. If he can show it’s the fungus that allows the plant to live in extreme conditions, he can likely move it into agriculture and have it help plants be more adapted to stress.
Read more about the project from Explore Big Sky, and see footage from the expedition below.